Free talks at Lewers

Elwyn Lynn, The Crane 1957: Part of the Modernism exhibition now on at Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest.
Elwyn Lynn, The Crane 1957: Part of the Modernism exhibition now on at Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest.

Penrith Regional Gallery’s current exhibition Emu Island - Modernism in Place celebrates modernism through the lens of artists Margo and Gerald Lewers. An ‘island of modernism’ in the Australian suburbs, the Lewers’ home in Emu Plains was founded on the principles of modernism - they lived, worked and entertained like-minded contemporaries set on fostering modernism as a way of living.

The Gallery site was – and is today – a place of lively debate, artistic creation and exhibition; and this month the spotlight will turn to modernism through two free public programs.

The first is an Author and Exhibition Curator talk on Sunday, October 15 from 2–4pm. Visitors are invited to connect with the history of modernism and gain some insights into what made the Gallery a unique place of creativity beginning 75 years ago.

Continuing a long established history of enquiry and debate, a number of writers, curators and artists were commissioned to investigate the under-researched area of post WWII Sydney modernism in relation to the Lewers and their contemporaries. Curator and writer Rhonda Davis, artist and writer Ian Milliss and exhibition curator and writer Dr Shirley Daborn will share what their research reveals and how it adds to the fabulous story of Emu Island – Modernism in Place.

On Sunday, October 22 from 2-4pm, the focus will shift to Modernist Art + Architecture – On site and out of site, with author and designer talks exploring what it’s like to live in homes designed by iconic modernist architects Harry Seidler and Russell Jack.

A resurgence of interest in all things modern makes it the perfect time to explore how the original notion of modern living has impacted current aesthetics and how the modernist spirit may benefit our lives today.

Speakers include interior designer, teacher and writer Annalisa Capurro, currently living in a Jack House, who shares her belief that modernist houses can teach us valuable lessons about living smaller and living smarter. The Wahroonga home won the prestigious Sir John Sulman Medal for domestic architecture in 1957, and was described as: “… in the best tradition of architecture, but essentially of today, exploiting admirably its hilly site, and the spirit, material and techniques of our people, and a worthy contribution to our domestic architecture.” Today the home is a valuable example of a mid-century design excellence and while it may be “a small house by today’s standards, it’s big in character and soul, so apart from the joy of living here, there’s a lot to learn from it” (Annalisa Capurro, mid-century design aficionado).

Artist Bronwyn Berman will reveal her personal story of living where modernism meets the Australian bush in the late great Harry Seidler designed Southern Highlands Berman house, described by Seidler as “a partnership with nature”. Seidler, an icon of Australian architecture, is often credited with bringing modernism to Australia, almost immediately influencing the shape of local architecture. Seidler believed architecture was an artform; art that flows out of simple yet functional design. He was committed to making a better physical world, wherein architecture is modern, socially aware and ecologically sound.  His work is considered ground-breaking for its design and advanced construction techniques.

Author and filmmaker Professor Helen Grace will MC the panel.

Bookings essential. Phone 4735 1100 or email